Best NBA dunkers of 2021 and all time
Find out the best dunkers in the NBA, from those who are currently active to the best in the history of the league.
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The best dunkers in the NBA
A few players are considered among the best dunkers currently playing in the NBA.
Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls is a two-time Slam Dunk Contest winner, having triumphed in both 2015 and 2016.
The 25-year-old shooting guard is known for his incredible leaping ability and is one of just four players to win consecutive dunk contests.
Derrick Jones Jr. is the reigning dunk contest champion. The Portland Trail Blazers small forward won thanks to a windmill dunk after taking off from beyond the free throw line.
Aaron Gordon controversially finished second in that contest, with most fans believing he should have been named the winner. The Orlando Magic power forward received perfect scores for his first five dunks of the competition but was given just a 47 for dunking over Boston Celtics big man Tacko Fall.
Gordon also finished second to LaVine in the 2016 dunk contest and is arguably the best dunker to never win the competition.
Zion Williams of the New Orleans Pelicans is also considered one of the best dunkers in the game. The second-year forward is yet to compete in the dunk contest but made his name in high school and at Duke University with his incredible athleticism and powerful slams.
In 2017, The Charlotte Observer claimed that Williamson could be the greatest high-school dunker in history.
The best dunkers in NBA history
When discussing the NBA’s best dunkers ever, Vince Carter is always near the top of the list.
The recently retired shooting guard – nicknamed “Vinsanity”, “Air Canada” and “Half Man, Half Amazing” thanks to his incredible dunks – won the 2000 dunk contest with one of the most memorable performances in the competition’s history.
Carter is also one of the best in-game dunkers ever and once dunked over 7ft 2in Frenchman Frederic Weis at the 2000 Olympics.
Michael Jordan is also one of the best dunkers to ever play the game. Jordan won back-to-back dunk contests in 1987 and 1988, and his trademark free throw line dunk became the logo for his Air Jordan brand.
Dominique Wilkins won the dunk contest in both 1985 and 1990, and had two epic duels with Jordan in the competition.
Wilkins was also a great in-game dunker, known for his windmill slams.
Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving is known as one of the most innovative dunkers ever, and he was the first to take off from the free throw line at the ABA’s 1976 dunk contest, which he won.
Before Dr. J, dunking was mainly done by big men and was considered by some to be showboating and even unsportsmanlike. Erving popularised the acrobatic dunks that are now common among wings and guards.
Some of the other players who have to be considered among the best dunkers ever include LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Shawn Kemp, Jason Richardson, Kobe Bryant and Nate Robinson.
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